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Beryllium

What Is Beryllium?

Beryllium is a chemical element grouped with the other alkaline earth metals. In its free form it appears rigid and has a steel-gray colouring. It is strong, lightweight, and brittle, able to resist corrosion, has a high melting point and has excellent thermal and electrical conductivity. Beryllium is mined from the mineral rocks beryl and bertrandite. Pure gem quality beryl is better known as emerald, aquamarine and chrysoberyl.

Did You Know? Beryllium dust is highly toxic and protective clothing needs to be worn when working with it in its free form.

What Is Beryllium Used For?

Beryllium is primarily alloyed with copper as a hardening agent and forms a wear resistant material called beryllium bronze which is used in gyroscopes and gasoline pumps. Beryllium is used in aerospace materials and communication satellites.

It is relatively transparent to X-rays and is a common window material for X-ray tubes. Beryllium is also used in heat sinking and heat transport applications. When alloyed with nickel it is used to make spot-welding electrodes, springs and non-sparking tools. Beryllium is used in the nuclear industry as a moderator in nuclear reactors and is used in ceramics.

Where Is Beryllium Mined?

Beryllium is mined and produced by one company, Brush Wellman and is found in the State of Utah in the United States of America. The rest of the world’s supply comes from beryl ores in Russia.

Conclusion

With its limited resources Beryllium is relatively rare but still has many uses. Most notably it is alloyed with other metals and used in aircrafts, weapons and machinery. Although some mines have produced only a small handful of Beryllium it is most commonly found and produced in the USA state of Utah.

If you would like to learn more about minerals and mining visit our Mining and Metals page.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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